He has emerged as one of the bright young stars in the Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight division, and Rob Font has designs on becoming a serious player at 135 pounds.
Font will put his 11-fight winning streak on the line when he meets former Jungle Fight champion John Lineker at UFC 198 “Werdum vs. Miocic” on Saturday at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil. The 28-year-old Team Sityodtong representative has stopped his first two opponents inside the Octagon with punches, as he knocked out George Roop in the first round at UFC 175 on July 5, 2014 and put away Joey Gomez in the second at UFC Fight Night “Dillashaw vs. Cruz” in January.
In this exclusive interview with Sherdog.com, Font discusses his high-takes matchup with Lineker, ponders fighting in hostile territory and relives his days as a delivery man for Pizza Hut:
Sherdog.com: Most people see your upcoming matchup with Lineker as the most important fight of your career to date -- and by a pretty wide margin. Would you agree?
Font: This fight is important, but I wouldn’t say it’s the most important fight of my career, even though it’s hopefully my coming-out party. A win takes me closer to the belt, but I don’t think it’s my most important fight. So far my most important fight came in CES MMA against Lucas Cruz. I faced a lot of adversity -- it was a grind -- and I taught myself I could be losing but grind it out and come out on top with the W. That was a big night in my career.
Sherdog.com: What challenges does Lineker pose as an opponent?
Font: He has a lot of experience and a lot of power. Experience is on his side -- and he has that one-shot knockout power. I’m sure he’s well-rounded, but we haven’t seen much of that because he’s always striking. The biggest thing would be his experience and his power. It’s huge for me to fight my fight. The only way I win this fight is to go out and do what I do best and stick to my game plan. One of the reasons I’ve been successful in MMA is because I’ve always tried to stick to my game plan as much as possible.
Sherdog.com: Have you ever been to Brazil?
Font: This is my first time heading to Brazil. I’m not really sure what to expect, but I’m really excited to go. Most young fighters dream of competing in two places: Brazil and Japan; and I’m excited to strike this one off the list. I’m excited for it. I’ve been in hostile places before and I can’t wait to feel that energy again. I shine in that situation. It’s different than when you’re fighting in your backyard or when you’re a young fighter in a place like Vegas, where no one has really heard of you yet. I just can’t wait to walk out to the Octagon. It definitely motivates me. I’m excited to take the bad guy role, and I’m going to take that W, too. Every win is big, and this fight will definitely give me a bit more recognition. Like I said, I’ve fought in hostile conditions. I thrive there, and I’m looking to show that to everyone again.
Sherdog.com: How have you spent your time preparing for this fight?
Font: I’ve been training at Sityodtong Boston with my main guys -- Rico DiSciullo, Lewis Corapi, Brian Rossi, a shorter guy who mimics Lineker well and my new Costa Rican friend and training partner, Rafael. They’re all a huge help; everybody at the gym is a huge help. Everyone almost always has a fight on the calendar, so you get hard rounds every single day.
Sherdog.com: What will people be saying about you after this fight?
Font: That kid’s a future champ. Watch out.
Sherdog.com: You have won 11 straight fights now. Do you feel like momentum matters in MMA?
Font: I think momentum can help your confidence, but everything happens so quickly in the cage. Everything can change 180 degrees in a split second, so it doesn’t really matter what you did in your last fight a few months ago or in your last five fights. Confidence is big, but I learned just as much from my one loss, if not more, than in all but a few wins. It’s a clean slate each and every fight.
Sherdog.com: Consider this scenario for me. Urijah Faber winds up injured ahead of UFC 199, leaving bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz without an opponent. The UFC calls you and offers you the chance to fight for the title on short notice. Do you take the fight?
Font: Oh, of course. Without a doubt, I wouldn’t even think about that. That’s a tough one, though. I respect what Cruz does. He’s quick, he works from awesome angles and he’s a good wrestler, but I think I’d be able to catch up to him and put him away.
Sherdog.com: I read somewhere that you were once a pizza delivery guy. Who did you deliver for and what was the weirdest thing you ever saw or experienced during a delivery?
Font: I worked for Pizza Hut. Weirdest thing? One time I delivered pizzas to what I describe as like a Tupperware party for sex toys (laughs). I walked in and I thought, “What the hell is going on over here?” That was a funny night.
Sherdog.com If the Rob Font of today could sit down with the Rob Font of 2011, the year you started in MMA, what warnings or tips would you give him knowing what you know now?
Font: I’d tell myself to maybe be a bit more patient. I was groomed so everything was right, but I’d advise myself to try to be a bit more patient with everything, especially taking my second pro fight, which is my one loss as a pro. Still, I’m very happy with how my life has progressed from 2011.
Sherdog.com: If you could travel back in time and have dinner with three historical figures, who would they be and why?
Font: Man, that’s a tough one. Let’s see … Helio Gracie and Hector “Macho” Camacho, both for fairly obvious reasons. The last one? That’s tough. I’m not sure. Let’s go with Babe Ruth. Is that OK? I’m sure he’s got some stories (laughs).